What Is Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder?

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder is a medical condition. It is caused by genetic factors that result in certain neurological differences. Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder comes in various forms, and there are five or six different types of ADHD.

In the DSM-IV Diagnostic manual, each of these forms, or "types" of ADHD falls under the diagnostic category of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). The main category is then subdivided into ADHD Inattentive Type, or ADHD Impulsive-Hyperactive Type, or ADHD Combined Type. In the recent past, the terms attention deficit disorder "with" or "without" hyperactivity were also commonly used. Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder comes in various forms, and truly, no two ADD or ADHD kids are exactly alike.

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder might affect one, two, or several areas of the brain, resulting in several different "styles" or "profiles" of children (and adults) with ADD ADHD.

These different profiles impact performance in these four areas:

First, problems with Attention.
Second, problems with a lack of Impulse Control.
Third, problems with Over-activity or motor restlessness,
Fourth, a problem which is not yet an "official" problem found in the diagnostic manuals, but ought to be: being easily Bored.

A few other important characteristics of this disorder are:

1) That it is SEEN IN MOST SITUATIONS, not just at school, or just in the home. When the problem is seen only at home, we then would wonder if perhaps the child is depressed, or if the child is just being non-compliant with the parents;

2) That the problems are apparent BEFORE the AGE OF SEVEN (7). Since Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder is thought to be a neurologically based disorder, we would expect that, outside of acquiring its symptoms from a head injury, the individual with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder would have been born with the disorder. Even though the disorder might not become much of a problem until the second or third grade when the school work becomes more demanding, one would expect that at least some of the symptoms were noted before the age of seven.

About one of twenty people, children and adults, have Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. It is a significant problem for these people, and for their families. Learn more about the different types of ADHD at and visit the ADHD Information Library's family of web sites.

Douglas Cowan, Psy.D., is a family therapist who has been working with ADHD children and their families since 1986. He is the clinical director of the ADHD Information Library's family of seven web sites, including http://www.newideas.net, helping over 350,000 parents and teachers learn more about ADHD each year. Dr. Cowan also serves on the Medical Advisory Board of VAXA International of Tampa, FL., is President of the Board of Directors for KAXL 88.3 FM in central California, and is President of NewIdeas.net Incorporated.

In The News:

Why Psychology Matters  Psychology Today
Why Does Boredom Exist?  Psychology Today
Who Was the First Therapy Dog?  Psychology Today
The Neuroscience of Racism  Psychology Today
What You Watch Matters  Psychology Today
Using psychology to boost mental health  People Management Magazine

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